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Nominee’s nameLenora Hardy-Foster
SEEN Changemaker CategoryNonprofits
Under the direction of Lenora Hardy-Foster, CEO since 2016, Judson Center is joyously celebrating its 95th anniversary in 2019. For 95 years, Judson Center has stayed true to its roots of serving Michigan children and families. Its core services are autism, behavioral health, foster care and adoption, job/skills training for individuals with disabilities, and primary care.
Judson Center continues to grow and flourish under Lenora's leadership. With the addition of Judson Center's new Farmington Hills headquarters on Northwestern Highway, there are ten Judson Center locations, all within Genesee, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties, with additional home-based autism services provided in Livingston County.
Highlighting one service as an example of Lenora's leadership, Judson Center’s Autism Connections has seen targeted growth and strategic purpose, providing a continuum of care to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). From pre-education skills (communication, play behaviors) to community and daily living skills, and soft skills training for jobs, Judson Center served 235 individuals from 18 months to early adulthood in 2017 and 245 in 2018, including individuals from its annual summer autism camp. Approximately 25% of the individuals in Judson Center’s vocational training services also have an ASD diagnosis.
Judson Center seeks to do more when it comes to autism. In addition to evidence-based, staff-intensive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services, the organization’s comprehensive approach includes family counseling, parent training, sibshops, occupational therapy, and speech services, minimizing a family’s need to drive around town to obtain services. Judson Center’s for-profit competitors, entering the market in recent years following insurance reimbursement changes, generally offer only ABA services. Judson Center also doesn’t turn anyone away for inability to pay, offering funding to help defray deductibles.
With Lenora’s guidance, Judson Center introduced Bridges to Success in 2018, a non-residential program on the Royal Oak campus using ABA therapy to help teens with autism develop relationship, independent living and pre-vocational skills as a gateway to successful adulthood. Offered in a home-like setting, goals include laundry, cooking, grocery shopping and money management. With 14 participants, the program has a waiting list, and has already switched locations on campus to expand capacity and prevent these teens from falling off the autism “cliff.”
With a dynamic CEO like Lenora, 2019 alone has been an incredible year for Judson Center. In February 2019, the Judson Center Family Health Clinic (JCFHC) opened, with partner MedNetOne Health Solutions providing the primary care resources, within Judson Center’s Warren facility. An integrated care clinic designed to meet both the physical and behavioral health needs of existing Judson Center clients, as well as those in Warren and neighboring communities not currently affiliated with Judson Center, JCFHC is a reality because of Lenora's vision and leadership. She knew that primary care services would strengthen and be integral to Judson Center's behavioral health services component.
In May 2019, Judson Center opened a new Autism Connections program in the Warren facility, with 4,000 more square feet of space added to the Warren footprint.
While Lenora would never take credit away from the dedication of her incredible executive team and 470+ staff members, she is a strong and respected leader within her organization and in the community. She takes her responsibilities very seriously, always keeping in mind Judson Center's mission to strengthen children, adults and families impacted by abuse and neglect, autism, developmental disabilities, and behavioral health and primary care challenges so they can be successful in their communities. Since opening its doors in 1924, Judson Center has grown to change the lives of over 10,000 children, adults, and families each year.
The SEEN Changemaker Awards are brought to you by
Peter and Danialle Karmanos